Colorado Springs City Councilor and former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has been appointed by a judge to run the Nov. 2 election in Mesa County after that county's clerk and recorder, Tina Peters, was removed as the designated election official by a judge on Oct. 13.
Williams previously was appointed by county commissioners there to run the election.
Secretary of State Jena Griswold petitioned to have Peters removed after she allegedly breached election security protocols.
“Clerk Peters seriously compromised the security of Mesa County’s voting system," Griswold said in a release. "The Court’s decision today bars Peters from further threatening the integrity of Mesa’s elections and ensures Mesa County residents have the secure and accessible election they deserve. As Secretary of State, I will continue to provide the support and oversight needed to ensure the integrity of Colorado’s elections.”
Although the Secretary of State’s Office can require supervision of a county clerk’s conduct, this legal action was necessary to ensure the removal of a sitting county clerk from acting as the Designated Election Official, the release said.
Williams will act as the new temporary designated election official while Sheila Reiner was appointed as the election supervisor for Mesa County.
The designated election official is responsible for running elections for a local government, like a municipality or a county. They make determinations regarding elections issues for their municipality or county.
Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement, "Williams and Reiner are both dedicated public servants who will carry out their duties with integrity and according to law.... Today’s ruling gives the voters in Mesa County the reassurance they need that the upcoming election will be free and fair, and administered in a manner that they and all Coloradans can trust."
The AG's Office is working with the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office on the criminal investigation into the alleged elections system security breach in Mesa County, Weiser's release said.
Williams, who held full-time elected county offices in El Paso County for 12 years, served as Colorado secretary of state for one term, losing the election to Griswold in 2018.
After that, he ran for an at-large city council seat in April 2019 and currently is chairman of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, which is comprised of councilors. The council job pays $6,250 a year.
There are several council meetings before the election and immediately after. The meetings will be Oct. 18, 25 and 26 and Nov. 5, 8 and 9.
When asked what, if any, impact his role in Mesa County is having on his Colorado Springs Council duties, Williams said via text message, "I've been functioning as DEO since August and been in Mesa 4 times already and haven't missed any councilor CSU [Colorado Springs Utilities] meetings -- particularly with remote option available. Don't anticipate any significant impact beyond what normal legal work might have."
Williams, an attorney, said he's being paid $180 per hour, which he says is "discounted from [the] ... normal rate of $400 [per hour]."